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Posts Categorized: Overcome Adversity

Living Life with Enthusiasm and Optimism

We are defined by many things in life: our relationships, our roles, our handicaps.

What defines you? My youngest son was an artist. He started drawing as soon as he could hold a pencil. Even the simplest stick figures he drew had character and substance. His creativity seemed to flow out of him like water from a pitcher. He would draw for hours.

He loved to draw faces – faces that so expressed the characteristics of the individual that it never required anything more – you saw the whole person in the face. Within the expressions, there was passion, confidence, longing, sadness, robust strength, humor, wisdom, and understanding. Even today as I look at his drawings, I marvel at the depth of disclosure in his drawings that revealed so much of the human spirit and soul.

Use It or Lose It: 10 Tools to Help You Communicate Effectively

Use It or Lose It: 10 Tools to Help You Communicate Effectively | FocusWithMarlene.com

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

-Nelson Mandela

We live in an age when information is available 24/7. Just install the right app and push the right button and you have anything and everything you want.

But do we?

We sign up for interesting and exciting courses online thinking when we have completed them, we will be able to bake a cake, take apart a car engine or know the best ways to travel. While all of this is wonderful and exciting, there is one step missing. Application.

Throughout this year, my blog posts have offered information, tools and strategies to meet the everyday challenges of life. But that information is just that – information – until it is used. Until we personally apply the information that can help us, it will simply remain good ideas.

Character Matters

Character Matters | FocusWithMarlene.com

Life is a question and how we live it is our answer.

-Gary Keller

What is character and why does it matter?

As we go through life, we are putting in place those qualities that identify and define who we are. It is a combination of things such as generosity, loyalty, devotion, etc., but even more important, our moral and ethical standards and principles.

  • Am I honest? Can you trust my word?
  • Do I live my beliefs and values?
  • Do others know I have integrity and will stand up for what is right, even at a personal cost?

My principles, values, morals and ethics not only define who I am but help me make sound decisions that maximize my talents in positive and constructive ways.

Conflict – “He Said – She Said”

Conflict – “He Said – She Said” | FocusWithMarlene.com

“That’s not what I said.”

“Yes, it is, I heard you.”

“You always try to pin the blame on me. If you were here instead of out golfing, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Oh, and how about you – out shopping again….”

And round and round and round it goes, ending with two angry people who continue to find ways to attack, defend and destroy each other.

Many of the problems we face are interpersonal conflicts of some kind. They are usually laced with anger and blame and persistence that I am right, and you are wrong.

How do we get into these conflicts in the first place? And how do we get out of them?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (Problem Solving)

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (Problem Solving) | FocusWithMarlene.com

“You think you’ve got problems – you should hear what happened to me last week…”

…And on and on it goes – we cannot wait to get together and share our stories of what new disaster we faced.

Life is ongoing problem solving.

And as much as we hate to have yet another unexpected intrusion in our well-laid plans, life would be pretty dull without them.

Problems of any kind demand some kind of resolution. Most decisions we make are so insignificant we rarely think about them, such as, what will I wear to work today? or, what shall I plan for dinner?

But others are more complicated and demand more thoughtful consideration. While symptoms keep us edgy and anxious, it may take a while to actually identify the problem that is creating those symptoms.

Self-Correcting When Life Takes You Off Course

Self-Correcting When Life Takes You Off Course | FocusWithMarlene.com

My husband and I loved to sail. We moved to Washington so we would have more opportunity to cruise the beautiful San Juan Islands.

If you plan on doing serious sailing or cruising, you need to learn the “rules of the road,” must be able to read charts and navigate the waters to avoid hidden reefs and shipping lanes. What is the significance of the different sizes and shapes of buoys? How do we chart a course from here to there while taking advantage of prevailing winds, tides and currents? Without these basics it is easy to get into trouble.

Sailing requires adjusting your sails to the weather and water conditions. The wind is the energy source that propels you through the water and as the wind shifts, your sails need adjusting to maximize power.

When Everything Goes Wrong

When Everything Goes Wrong | FocusWithMarlene.com

Everything was going wrong that could go wrong that morning.

First, I dropped a contact lens and spent 10 minutes looking for it. Then I received a warning about an unpaid cell phone bill. After my attempt to pay online failed, I hurried into town to pay in person. But the office was closed. I returned home and tried again to pay online and finally after a lot of resets the bill was paid. The morning had been spent frantically trying to resolve problems that seemed to come out of nowhere.

As I fixed myself a late breakfast, I found myself in a funk, frustrated for not being more careful putting in my contacts, angry with technology that seemed to make the simplest things more difficult and at myself for forgetting to pay my bills on time. I had planned on completing some writing projects that morning and instead my time was spent taking care of unexpected emergencies.

Adjust Your Focus: Reframe Your Circumstances

Adjust Your Focus: Reframe Your Circumstances | FocusWithMarlene.com

Life is full of challenges. Some challenges will be fairly straightforward while others will require major adjustment and reframing to meet the demands within them.

Years ago, when I was helping design and write a class on Chronic Illness, we reviewed a book by Arnold Beisser titled, Flying without Wings: Personal Reflections on Loss, Disability and Healing. Arnold was a young man ready to conquer the world. He was an athlete and tennis champion and had just completed medical school when polio struck. He found himself in an iron lung instead of in an office taking on new clients.

As he lay there unable to move, paralyzed from head to foot, he asked himself, Now what? His life seemed over. But he decided to take it back and gradually began to reframe his situation.

A New Focus

A New Focus | FocusWithMarlene.com

Before I returned to school to get my master’s degree in psychology and counseling, I had the privilege to work for a company that provided two-week training workshops to injured workers in chronic pain. The participants were mandated to attend before their workman’s compensation expired.

When they arrived, they were angry and combative. Yet over the two weeks, we saw a profound change in individuals – they had hope again. They began to focus on what they could possibly do rather than what they no longer were able to do. It was an amazing transformation I witnessed many times.

However, some participants refused to consider such an option, and remained locked in bitterness over their injuries. When we believe we are limited or have no choices, we experience hopelessness, helplessness, resentment, anxiety and fear.

We Need to Accept in Order to See Alternatives

We Need to Accept in Order to See Alternatives | FocusWithMarlene.com

What major change are you facing?

What situation do you find intolerable or unbearable – job, marriage, family concerns, health, etc.?

Perhaps you are trying to become more flexible as you age, adjusting to life as it is today instead of what used to be.

I listen to the poignant stories of people who are struggling to make ends meet, or overcome the loss of a loved one, or are re-fitting life to meet new health concerns. I include myself in many of these stories. And I tell myself as I tell others:

Nothing will change or get better until we first accept.

People’s first response when I say let go and accept is, “You must be kidding. Accept that my life is falling apart – accept that I have run into another setback?”

Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.